|Robert Bednarik at the entrance shaft of the cave |
art site near Mount Gambier.
About 30 caves within a 25km radius of Mt Gambier contain petroglyphs - carving or line drawings on rock - and art done by Aboriginal people in the last ice age, which ended about 10,000 years ago.
A Cave Art Special Committee has been formed to ensure caves containing Aboriginal art up to tens of thousands of years old are protected.
The committee consisting of people with knowledge of the caves, local Aboriginal people, government and forestry representatives has been formed to get the appropriate Federal Government heritage listing.
Committee member Robert Bednarik said the caves were completely unprotected.
"We want to nominate them for national heritage listing initially as currently they are only protected by their secret locations," Mr Bednarik said.
"Mt Gambier has one of the three largest concentrations of cave art in the world, the cave art is utterly unique."
Ancient torches and charcoal in abalone shells have been found hundreds of metres inside some of the caves where Aboriginal people collected flint to make tools.
"The evidence of underground mining at Mt Gambier is probably the best in the world for the ice-age," Mr Bednarik said.
"It's very extensive mining in some cases where you have real mining with metre-long wooden stakes being driven into the rock to get the lime stone off to get access to the flint seam.
"We have found some lights in quite a number of cases ... torches and charcoal deep inside caves, in little niches up on walls so they could see," he said.
He said in one cave he found an abalone shell sitting on the floor, "just as it was left completely full with charcoal".
"The information we currently have indicates that certainly by about 30,000 years ago people were quite active in some of those caves," Mr Bednarik said.
"It's the same age as the European cave art, the oldest cave art currently dated in the world is Chauvey cave in France ... that's 32,000 years old. This is in the same range."
Source: Adelaide Now